Detective Comics is in a bit of a tie-in space right now, with the last issue playing a part in showing what is happening in Gotham during “The Joker War” event. In Detective Comics #1026, we get to see Batman take on Killer Croc in a side mission of sorts while the city is being attacked from all sides by the Joker. It may be a side mission, but it does show us how Joker’s war is affecting good people and even bad folks like Killer Croc. That gives it a reason to exist, although just barely.
This issue is drawn by Kenneth Rocafort and written by Peter J. Tomasi, and opens on Batman attempting to stop a robbery that leads him into the sewers. You’ll want to read this if you’re a Killer Croc fan, as it bridges the gap from “The City of Bane” to “The Joker War” adequately. Tomasi has been pretty good at making this book focus on the detective side of Batman and we get a bit of that as he tries to figure out what has sent Killer Croc into the sewers. This leads to some answers as well as shows how Killer Croc isn’t so bad — it’s just that he does things his own way.
Ultimately, this issue serves as a way to see how Joker’s war on Gotham is hurting all sorts of folks, some of which most Gotham citizens wouldn’t care about or even be aware of. It serves to show how complex this battle has become, hurting all sorts. It doesn’t make a ton of sense though — why would Batman be on a random patrol when he should be fighting the Joker? As a result, it feels quite unnecessary. I had the same feeling with Detective Comics #1025, which does a similar thing in showing the war’s effect on Gotham, but not really tying into the event at all. If you love Batman and villains like Killer Croc it’s a fine read, but it’s one you can easily skip.
The art by Rocafort is good, although less polished compared to the last issue. There’s a cool fight scene between Batman and Killer Croc that has panels scattering and flying every which way that stands out. There’s a good amount of design going into Killer Croc’s new henchmen and it’s fun to see them before their transformation too. You can tell real effort went into making that work.
I had a hard time caring about this story. Batman takes on a villain during “The Joker War”, but with no tether to the main event, it seems random and pointless. Even if “The Joker War” wasn’t going on, this story would seem slapped together. It’s not a badly made comic, it just doesn’t ever scream out to you that it needed to exist in the first place. Often when comics seem to be uninspired like this one I think about what could have gone wrong and it’s possible the creative team had to cook up less than interesting stories so as to not get in the way of the extra-sized Detective Comics #1027. If that’s the case, it’s hard to fault the creators too much.